A state senator last week proposed a constitutional amendment to divert a portion of new revenue growth to fund Missouri transportation projects instead of other plans to raise various transportation-related taxes or sales taxes.

The proposal from Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, could appear on the November ballot if the Legislature approves the measure, which would earmark 10% of revenue growth for transportation, or $36 million in fiscal 2009. That figure would grow to more than $200 million in five fiscal years.

The state has been on a borrowing spree in recent years, including $550 million issued last summer by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, but officials fear that debt capacity will soon be exhausted.

The commission began its legislatively approved borrowing program in 2000. It was expanded after voters in November 2004 approved a constitutional amendment to accelerate state road projects by ending the diversion of some road-related taxes to the general fund.

The commission plans to issue another $350 million of bonds in fiscal 2010 to complete its $2 billion borrowing program. The agency is also planning to sell $150 million of grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds in fiscal 2009 — its first issuance of Garvees, which leverage federal highway grants.

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